Grace! It’s such a small word, but it can mean so many things. In the Christian church I have heard it referred to as “God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense.” Truer words were never spoken. Grace is unmerited, undeserved, unearned. It is given freely to us by our heavenly Father. Honestly, I can’t think of another person on this earth who needs the promise of grace more than the mom of a child with special needs.
Every day we show up because we have to. We are there when they have a tantrum or meltdown, misunderstand a simple direction, and won’t take the medication they so desperately need. We are supermoms! Mom is their everything—their compass, their disciplinarian, their boo-boo fixer, their maid, and yes, their mom. As moms, we are the ones they count on. We give unconditional love to infinity and beyond. Moms cry with them, laugh with them, smile with them. It’s our job to clean up toys, wash clothes, feed them, clothe them, and bathe them, and we rock them in our arms for years longer than our neurotypical mom peers. We give the term “Mama Bear” a new meaning.
And then one day comes along when the loving, caring supermom turns into a pile of emotional mush. As a result, we lose our tempers and turn into screaming meemies that could scare a Tyrannosaurus Rex! The laundry is adding up, the toys are on the floor, your child forgot what a toothbrush even looks like, and you feed them cereal for dinner. We are having a seriously Bad Mama Moment—it can last a second, an hour, a day, or longer. We beat ourselves up over being . . . what’s that word? Oh, HUMAN. We are human. We don’t have the superpowers everyone thinks we do, and we make sure to tell ourselves how horrible it makes us. Except it doesn’t. It doesn’t make us horrible; it makes us human.
As humans, we are flawed. We are imperfect, and we will make mistakes. That’s why God gives us grace. Have you ever heard the saying, “There but for the grace of God, go I”? I have always interpreted it to mean, “Things could be so much worse than they are right now.”
Grace is an opportunity; it’s a gift; it’s a chance to breathe. You can find a piece of it in everything you do. It’s not easy. The easiest thing to do is throw your hands up in the air and quit. It wouldn’t help your special child, but it would give you the breather you need. We have all thought about giving up, if only for a second.
This, my friends, is why we need grace. Grace brings us hope to move forward when we have none. We need to look for it, find it, accept it, and nurture it in every situation. It’s there. In every situation we can find a small piece of respite, if you will. A positive outcome or bit of encouragement can be found right in the midst of a Bad Mama Moment if you’ll allow yourself to see it. Sometimes awareness doesn’t come immediately; sometimes you need to reflect and look back in order to move forward.
Being a mom to a child with special needs is hard work. We are not always going to do the right things or make the right choices. We are going to stumble. And God will be right there to catch us when we do. He will offer us growth when we are stagnant, renewal when we are tired, acceptance when we falter. He will give us clarity of thought in a sea of chaos. And above all, he will walk with us in empathy, knowing exactly what we are feeling and why. God is in everything and will use everything at all times to help his children.
God may send you a village to help you raise your child. He may send you another mom who knows just what you are going through to hold your hand when times get tough. He may even send a new friend just to make sure you keep sailing in the right direction. These are all part of his gift of grace.
Perhaps if I show you how I find a bit of his grace in my life, you might be able to find it in yours.
It’s not easy. In fact, it sometimes takes work, and it often takes a whole lot of self-reflection. You can put twenty moms in a room together, ask what it means to self-reflect, and get twenty different answers.
For me, self-reflection is the act of reviewing a situation for the sole purpose of determining what I can take from that situation to make my life with my child better.
Self-reflection is essential in our motherhood journeys because without it, we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over. Many parents of special needs children feel like they are beating their heads over a brick wall, but if they would take a long hard look at each situation, they might see something that could break the cycle—something they could change.
GRACE is in every situation we face, but in the heat of the moment, it is often impossible to make out. Self-reflection focuses your vision. With self-reflection you can see the growth, find renewal, understand what you need to accept, gain clarity, and maybe give yourself some empathy.